Casualty star Derek Thompson looking gloom as Charlie is in danger in this week's Casualty (Credit: BBC)

Casualty star Derek Thompson’s secret health battle that made his life ‘murderous’

He's thankfully found some relief

Derek Thompson has played Casualty’s Charlie Fairhead for an incredible 36 years.

The much-loved actor has been involved in number of hard-hitting storylines over the years, but Derek had his own drama to deal with in real life.

The father-of-two, 74, began developing neck cramps and head tremors more than 20 years ago, which he wrongly diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease.

Derek said “being a typical bloke”, he did nothing about his condition until his life became so “murderous” he was forced to see a doctor.

Casualty star Derek Thompson looking gloom as Charlie is in danger in this week's Casualty (Credit: BBC)
Derek was diagnosed with dystonia (Credit: BBC)

Dealing with his diagnosis

He told The Mirror: “I began to get cramps and spasms in my neck and tremors, which caused my whole head to nod.”

After Derek’s dad told him to get a proper diagnosis, the star was diagnosed with dystonia – a movement disorder which causes the muscles to contract involuntarily.

Derek explained: “In about 30% of sufferers, the spasms can spread into adjoining muscles – luckily it was benign so I knew I wouldn’t die.”

The actor is Casualty’s longest-serving character (Credit: BBC)

Bit of Botox

The actor was told the only treatment for the condition was to have Botox injections to paralyse the muscles, but at the time Derek’s dystonia wasn’t advanced enough.

However he revealed it continued to get worse and in 2018 the star had his first course of the injections, which he said “dramatically improved things” after being administered every three months.

He later joked he should have asked for a bit of Botox around the eyes to get ‘rid of his wrinkles’.

Derek has dealt with some hard-hitting storylines over the years (Credit: BBC)

End of an era?

Derek is Casualty’s longest serving character having joined the show when it started in 1986.

With Charlie having been held at gunpoint and after dealing with his on-screen wife Duffy’s dementia, viewers were wondering if he may bid farewell to hospital life.

Read more: Casualty viewers in tears as iconic character returns after Holby City axe

There were concerns Derek may quit the series after it celebrated its 35th anniversary last year after Connie Beauchamp played by Amanda Mealing bid farewell to the show.

However after joking that the producers should send Charlie on a Caribbean cruise for his next adventure, the actor said he was proud to still be a part of the award-winning production.

Casualty is on BBC One on Saturday at 8.35pm – do you still enjoy the show?

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Nancy Brown
Associate Editor

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